The Juicy Details – Why detailed estimates are awesome

Have you ever had a client come to you in the middle of a job – or worse, at the end of a job – saying, “This isn’t what we talked about”? Probably. Cover your butt by creating a detailed estimate and get things right from the start. 3 Reasons why detailed estimates are awesome: Accuracy! Detailed estimates are more accurate. There’s nothing worse than underestimating – it means working for free. If there’s crown molding around the room and a picture rail that the client wants painted in a secondary color, noting those details will help you accurately estimate the time and materials you need. Customer Satisfaction! Clients will appreciate seeing the details you plan to pay attention to on their project; it shows them you care about the job and their satisfaction. They’ll also appreciate an accurate timeline. Clear communication! You, your customer, and your crew can easily be on the same page about the expectations of a project. This cuts down on mistakes, which cost time, money, and customer satisfaction. As with anything else, building detailed estimates takes practice.  If you’re not already in the habit, here are a few ideas to get you detail-oriented: Are there areas that require extra prep or repair work? Look for things that will add to prep and clean-up time (like if the work is on the 3rd floor accessible only by a narrow staircase) Are there any unique surfaces that require special treatment or materials? Note the width and style of trim around ceiling, baseboards, windows, doors, etc. Detailed estimates are awesome because they are more accurate.  They show...

Fix your business in 2016

New Year’s Resolutions This is the time of year that many of us spend reflecting on the last 12 months and setting goals for the next 12.  As a business owner, this kind of reflection is just as important for your business as it is for your personal life.  We’ve been talking about it at PEP Cloud and since we’re in the estimating business, we came up with a few estimating resolutions to help you get to where you want to be. Start using production rates and measure the spaces that you estimate instead of using hours or coming up with a price that “feels good”. Start putting pictures on your proposals to increase your sales closing rate. Start tracking the money spent on labor and materials on your jobs to see if you are meeting your profit targets. If you need help starting with any of these goals, please contact us. Happy New...

Increase sales by building customer trust

Building customer trust is key to growing your business.  If customers have a good experience with you, they’ll call you the next time they need a room painted (repeat business – alright!).  They’ll refer your company to friends and family members (new business – awesome!).  And they are more likely to pay on time (bonus!). Customers need to feel like you care about finding the right solution for their problems.  They want to know that you can meet deadlines and stay on budget.  And they want to feel confident that you will be honest with them along the way.  Use these tips to build customer confidence in your company and increase sales: Put your phone number on EVERYTHING! Make it easy for clients – new and existing – to reach you. Give customers your cell phone number. They may never use it, but this tells customers that you’re there if they need you. When quoting a job, itemize the estimate so that customers can see what they’re paying for. Transparency builds confidence. Be accurate with the estimate, both financially and time-wise. Stick to the budget you quoted unless something unexpected pops up in the project.  Customers will lose trust fast if they feel like they’re being nickel-and-dimed.   Be realistic about how long the job will take. Admit mistakes right away and offer immediate solutions. Want to read more about customer trust?  Check out the article “3 Ways to Build Customer Trust” from Entrepreneur Magazine.   http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224622...

Meet Up: Getting together is good for business.

Running a small business can be a lonesome job.  Getting together with other business owners in your area is a good way to help you stay connected.  Have you heard of Meetup.com?  The website is a hub for people who like to get together old-school, meaning in person.  Some groups are purely social; but many are business or interest related.  I did a quick search for Meetup groups in my area and found more than a hundred.  At the top of the list is Small Biz Breakfast-eaters, a group of business owners who get together once a month for – what else? – breakfast!  The point is to get similar people together in a relaxed environment to share ideas, challenges, and solutions. Why join a meetup group? Because you don’t want to run your business inside a vacuum.  Who better to talk to about the challenges and joys of running a small business than others in the same situation?  Perhaps you’re thinking about running a newspaper ad; talk to others and see if anyone’s had success with a newspaper campaign.  You’ll meet people that you can bounce ideas off of and people you can learn from.  Being part of a community is essential to maintaining a healthy perspective on your business and your life. How do I find a group? Meetup.com is one place.  You can also find groups through Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter.  The PDCA and other trade organizations have local chapters and regular get-togethers. I can’t find a group I’m interested in. No problem.  Start your own! Getting together with other business owners can help you...

Don’t Let a Toxic Employee Damage Your Business

Most of you reading this blog work for or run a small business.  You know that small businesses have unique challenges that large corporations don’t – cash flow, taxes, insurance, employees, family (those last 2 often overlap).  We were at a cook out last weekend and it struck me that many of our friends and family work for small businesses.  Although the companies are very different, the kinds of problems that they have are very similar. My brother-in-law told us about a problem he has at work (the company he works for has about 10 employees).  Employees do some pretty specialized tasks, so once they’re trained, there isn’t a lot of turnover.  Here’s the problem: one of the employees is creating a toxic environment.  Employee X calls out “sick” at least once a week (often more), he’s good at looking busy but doesn’t actually get much done, and because he’s the only one who does certain tasks, he feels like his job is safe (meaning he’s arrogant).  My brother-in-law and his coworkers are finding it hard to be motivated at work knowing that this guy isn’t working and isn’t getting fired or even reprimanded.  He also knows that the boss is hesitant to fire Employee X for 2 reasons: he needs someone to do the tasks Employee X is trained to do and he doesn’t want to pay unemployment for the guy. At a large corporation, this behavior wouldn’t be tolerated.  But in a small business, where everyone is an important part of the team, and where losing an employee (even a toxic one) means a LOT more work for everyone...